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whowhowho comments on Reductionism - Less Wrong

40 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 16 March 2008 06:26AM

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Comment author: whowhowho 04 February 2013 03:13:01PM 0 points [-]

and that Bayesian rationality is a systematic way of producing good theories.

An automated theory generator would be worth a nobel.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 04 February 2013 05:38:31PM 2 points [-]

So, the introduction of "automated" to this discussion feels like a complete nonsequitor to me. Can you clarify why you introduce it?

Comment author: whowhowho 04 February 2013 07:49:51PM 0 points [-]

If you have a "systematic" way of "producing" something, (JGWeissman) surely you can automate it.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 04 February 2013 08:21:25PM 0 points [-]

Ah. OK, thanks for clarifying.

Comment author: [deleted] 05 February 2013 05:03:04AM 1 point [-]

I could call a procedure "systematic" even if one of the steps used a human's System 1 as an oracle, in which case it'd be hard to automate that as per Moravec's paradox.

Comment author: whowhowho 05 February 2013 11:07:13AM *  0 points [-]

I would not call such a procedure systematic. Who would? Here's a system for success as an author: first have a brilliant idea...it reads like a joke, doesn't it?

Comment author: [deleted] 05 February 2013 12:32:23PM 1 point [-]

I wasn't thinking of something that extreme; more like the kind of tasks people do on Mechanical Turk.

Comment author: whowhowho 05 February 2013 12:35:06PM -2 points [-]

Is there anything non systematic by that definition? In what way does it promote Bayesianism to call it systematic?

Comment author: TheOtherDave 05 February 2013 04:08:30PM 2 points [-]

Well, I have no idea if it "promotes Bayesianism" or not, but when someone talks to me about a systematic approach to doing something in normal conversation, I understand it to be as opposed to a scattershot/intuitive approach.

For example, if I want to test a piece of software, I can make a list of all the integration points and inputs and key use cases and build a matrix of those lists and build test cases for each cell in that matrix, or I can just construct a bunch of test cases as they occur to me. The former approach is more systematic, even if I can't necessarily automate the test cases.

I realize that your understanding of "systematic" is different from this... if I've understood you, if I can't automate the test cases then this approach is not systematic on your account.

Comment author: whowhowho 05 February 2013 05:46:59PM -1 points [-]

Can there be a scattershot or intuitive scientific method?

Comment author: TheOtherDave 05 February 2013 07:30:55PM 1 point [-]

Well, first of all, we should probably clarify that the original claim was that Bayesian rationality was a systematic way of producing good theories, and therefore presumably was meant to contrast with scattershot or intuitive ways of producing good theories, rather than to contrast with a scattershot or intuitive scientific method... just in case any of our readers lost track of the original question.

But to answer your question... I wouldn't think so, in that an important part of what X needs to have before I'm willing to call X a scientific method is a systematic way of validating and replicating results.

That said, I would say it's possible for a scientific method to embed a scattershot or intuitive approach to producing theories. Indeed, the history of the scientific method as applied by humans has done this pretty ubiquitously.

Comment author: [deleted] 05 February 2013 04:39:21PM *  2 points [-]

Is there anything non systematic by that definition?

See TheOtherDave.

In what way does it promote Bayesianism to call it systematic?

See E.T. Jaynes calling certain frequentist techniques “ad-hockeries”. EDIT: BTW, I didn't have Bayesianism in mind when I replied to this ancestor -- I should stop replying to comments without reading their ancestors first.

Comment author: private_messaging 05 February 2013 07:39:15AM *  1 point [-]

It feels like you use 'questions' a lot more than usual, and it looks very much like a rhetorical device because you inject counter points into your questions. Can you clarify why you do it? (see what I did there?)

Sidenote: Actually, questions are often a sneaky rhetorical device - you can modify the statement in the way of your choosing, and then ask questions about that. You see that in political debates all the time.

Comment author: Vaniver 05 February 2013 02:12:43PM 0 points [-]

Agreed that questions can be used in underhanded ways, but this example does seem more helpful at focusing the conversation than something like:

Can you clarify why you added "automated" to the discussion?

That could easily go in other directions; this makes clear that the question is "how did we get from A to B?" while sharing control of the topic change / clarification.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 05 February 2013 03:37:44PM 0 points [-]

Can you clarify why you do it?

Sure, I'd be happy to: because I want answers to those questions.

For example, whowhowho's introduction of "automated" did in fact feel like a nonsequitor to me, and I wanted to understand better why they'd introduced it, to see whether there was some clever reasoning there I'd failed to follow. Their answer to my question clarified that, and I thanked them for the clarification, and we were done.

(see what I did there?)

You asked a question.
I answered it.
It really isn't that complicated.

That said, I suspect from context that you mean to imply that you did something sneaky and rhetorical just then, just as you seem to believe that I do something sneaky and rhetorical when I ask questions.
If that's true, then no, I guess I don't see what you did there.

questions are often a sneaky rhetorical device

Yes. So are statements.

Comment author: shminux 04 February 2013 06:35:56PM 2 points [-]